Hospitalisation and isolation often leads to anxiety and depression in patients.
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A Covid-19 patient at Hospital Queen Elizabeth I, Sabah jumped out an 8th floor window and fell to her death last night.
According to Berita Harian, the 63-year-old patient was supposed to be discharged today after she was cleared of the virus.
The situation is tragic and upsetting, but it points to another aspect of treatment missing for Malaysia’s Covid-19 patients – mental health.
Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah revealed that the Health Ministry does not have a formal support-group for Covid-19 patients and survivors.
However, he urged survivors to form one as it would be good for them to share their experiences in overcoming the mental exhaustion of going through the disease.
No one really talks about the mental health of Covid-19 patients
The Health Ministry’s daily Covid-19 updates are largely numbers driven with focus on the number of new cases, recoveries and deaths so the general public has little to no idea on the patient’s condition.
The data compiled on Covid-19 is done in such a way that the public can get updates of the general situation while still protecting the patient’s confidentiality.
Status Terkini COVID-19 Di Malaysia,— KKMalaysia🇲🇾 (@KKMPutrajaya) October 21, 2020
21 Okt 2020
Jumlah kes sembuh=14,931 kes
Kes baharu positif=732
(kes import=8, kes tempatan=724)
Jumlah positif=22,957 kes
Jumlah kes kematian=199 kes
Kes dirawat di ICU= 102 kes
Bantuan Alat Pernafasan= 31 kes pic.twitter.com/2Bd7Wc1Bzf
While this is technically a good thing, it also dehumanises the patient into just a number, or a statistic.
Even the official Covid-19 treatment guide focuses on treating patients physically, and not mentally.
Patients with Covid-19 illness should receive symptomatic treatment such as antipyretics, optimal nutritional support, maintenance of fluid and electrolytes balance.Annex 2e : Clinical Management For Confirmed COVID-19 in Adult and Paediatric, Ministry of Health.
But having Covid-19 does leave a mark on the patient’s mental health.
Mayo Clinic points out that patients who survive the experience, especially in intensive care unit (ICU), are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and anxiety.
A study in the International Journal of Nursing Practice also highlights that hospitalisation results in many negative feelings that have detrimental effects on a patients psychological well being, but the effect was higher in patients who were isolated.
More significantly, infected subjects who were isolated demonstrated feelings of anxiety, and depression that were significantly higher, and feelings of self esteem and sense of control that were significantly lower than those demonstrated by hospitalised subjects.International Journal of Nursing Practice
The study argues that isolation – such as in the case of Covid-19 treatment – has an even greater negative effect on their coping.
In Malaysia, the anxiety surrounding becoming infected with Covid-19 is very high. This can be seen among patients in Sabah who run away from frontliners and refuse to go to the hospital, requiring forceful intervention from healthcare personnel.
With mental health issues spiking alongside lockdowns and rising infections, it’s high time we do something about it.
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